The cholinomimetic agent carbachol induces headache in healthy subjects

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The parasympathetic nervous system is likely to be involved in migraine pathogenesis. We hypothesized that the cholinomimetic agonist carbachol would induce headache and vasodilation of cephalic and radial arteries. Carbachol (3 microg/kg) or placebo was randomly infused into 12 healthy subjects in a double-blind crossover study. Headache was scored on a verbal rating scale from 0-10. Velocity in the middle cerebral artery (V(MCA)) and diameter of the superficial temporal artery (STA) and radial artery (RA) were recorded. Nine participants developed headache after carbachol compared with three after placebo. The area under the curve for headache was increased after carbachol compared with placebo both during infusion (0-30 min) (P = 0.042) and in the postinfusion period (30-90 min) (P = 0.027). Carbachol infusion caused a drop in V(MCA) (P = 0.003) and an increase in STA diameter (P = 0.006), but no increase in the RA diameter (P = 0.200). In conclusion, the study demonstrated that carbachol caused headache and dilation of cephalic arteries in healthy subjects.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)258-68
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Keywords: Adult; Area Under Curve; Blood Flow Velocity; Brain; Carbachol; Cholinergic Agents; Cross-Over Studies; Double-Blind Method; Female; Headache; Humans; Male; Middle Cerebral Artery; Radial Artery; Temporal Arteries; Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon; Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial; Vasodilation; Vasodilator Agents; Young Adult

ID: 21359534